by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 11st June 1991:
The Election Commission’s interpretation of the Federal Constitution will completely destroy the eight-year rule and will even allow it to start reviewing redelineation of constituencies once every five years
The Election Commission has denied that it is acting unconstitutionally in violating the eight-year rule in the Federal Constitution in beginning to review redelineation of constituencies with a special meeting of the Election Commission top officers at the Cameron Highlands on June 25 and 26-more than a year ahead of the constitutional deadline.
An Election Commission spokesman has given an interpretation to the Federal Constitution which will completely destroy the eight-year rule and will even allow Election Commission to start reviewing delineation of constituencies once every five years if this suits the political interests of the powers that be.
Article 113(2)(ii) of the Federal Constitution states that “There shall be an interval of not less than eight years between the date of completion of one review, and the date commencement of the next review”.
I am aware that the Federal Constitution also provides that “the date of completion of a review shall be the date of the submission of the report to the Prime Minister under section 8 of the Thirteenth Schedule” which the Election Commission spokesman said was Nov.8, 1984 for the previous review, and the “date commencement of a review” shall be the date of the publication in the Gazette of the notice, after informing the Prime Minister and the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, of the Election Commission’s proposed new redelineation of the electoral constituencies, to allow for public representations and the holding of local inquiries into the objections.
Taking Novermber 8, 1984 as ‘the date of completion’ of the review of the previous redelineation of constituencies, and going by the Election Commission’s interpretation of the Constitution, this means it could not only start a new review for redelineation of constituencies at the Cameron Highlands on June 25 and 26, but if it wanted, it would have started the review in November 1990, get all proposals for new redelineation of constituencies ready, and wait for November 7, 1992 for the formal
‘commencement’ of the new review by way of the Gazette notification as required by the Constitution.
Practical terms, this will effectively destroy the eight-year and allow the Election Commission to begin to review
This is clearly not the intent and spirit of the eight-year rule in the Federal Constitution governing the review for redelineation of constituencies.
The pertinent political question is why the Election Commission is in such an indecent and unconstitutional haste to review the redelineation of constituencies, and not abide by the eight-year rule by waiting until November 7, 1992 before starting any work on the review of the redelineation of constituencies?
Is the Election Commission succumbing to the pressures of UMNo to redelineate constituencies?
In November last year, for instance, the Pahang UMNO leader, Tan Sri Mohamed Khalil Yaakob said publicly that Pahang UMNO wants the Election Commission to create four new parliamentary constituencies in the state before the next general elections. What other ‘directives’ had the Election Commission received from other UMNO leaders on the review for the redelineation of constituencies?
DAP calls on the Election Commission to fully respect the letter and spirit of the eight-year rule in the Federal Constitution, and to cancel the Cameron Highlands special meeting for the 1992 national redelineation of constituencies, and not to begin any work whatsoever on the review of the constituencies redelineation until the full expiry of eight years from the previous review on November 7, 1992.
If the Election Commission persists in holding the Cameron Highlands special meeting to begin the redelineation of constituencies more than one year ahead of the eight-year rule, then DAP lawyers will study the constitutional and legal options available to uphold the eight-year rule for review for redelineation of constituencies.